Logano and Johnson fastest as four-car crash mars Clash practice at Daytona
Defending series champion Joey Logano topped the speed chart during the first on-track action of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, but it was a rough start for Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman.
With roughly 45 minutes remaining in what served as the only practice for Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona (3 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), Elliott’s No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro drifted up into Ryan Newman’s No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang, triggering a four-car scramble. Elliott was able to drive his car back to the garage, but the team has elected to go to a backup for tomorrow’s race.
“He tried to fill a hole that wasn’t really there and that started the mess,” Newman told FS1 after exiting the infield care center.
Hamlin received the most significant damage as his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry slammed nose-first into the outside wall, while Harvick spun into the grass trying to avoid the incident. In a collective effort between NASCAR officials and the Nos. 4 and 6 teams, Harvick and Newman were able put four new tires on their cars as they sat on the backstretch during the red-flag period, driving their machines back to the garage with minimal damage.
Logano recorded a fast lap of 196.786 miles per hour in the No. 22 Team Penske car, putting the new Ford Mustang at the top of the leaderboard in its official 2019 debut. Jimmie Johnson finished the session in second with a lap of 196.674 mph, while Austin Dillon (196.622 mph), Elliott (196.580 mph) and Harvick (196.511 mph) rounded out the top-five speeds.
Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What happened out there on the track?
“It’s part of it. I think a couple of cars were merging right there into some other cars. Someone was probably trying to use that as an opportunity to make a move. Really couldn’t – I don’t even know what started it. Last I saw was the 6 (Ryan Newman) was kind of crossing over my nose there and I felt a tag from somebody behind us. Just part of it. This is what practice is for is to kind of feel your car out and feel things you need to work on. Obviously those few laps I got to run right in the pack, there’s some feedback that we need to adjust for our handling.”
What was the biggest thing you took away from those laps you were able to run?
“Just working on drivability just a little bit. Everything seemed fine as far as the speed in the car especially with the four-car pack that we had. Just need to work a little bit being able to have a car secure enough to make moves, but also have it to where you don’t slow it so much in the draft.”
What happened from your viewpoint?
“I’m not really sure. I think some cars were merging up top. Spotter let me know that, but maybe someone was trying to use that as an opportunity to make a move on whoever was in front of them. Just saw the cars spinning there in front of me. I was checking up and someone just tagged us from behind. Shame it happened, but obviously these are race conditions in which you want to kind of get a good feel for your car and figure out the change you need to make to make it raceable.”
Does it make you apprehensive to practice the draft for the rest of the weekend?
“Not really. I’m a huge advocate of going out there in the pack, especially know that you’ve got really the 15 best cars out there. You really shouldn’t worry too much about it. These things happen especially guys that are trying to put themselves in positions that they’re going to be in in the Clash tomorrow. Really no fault of anyone.”
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